By Joycelyn Osborne | January 2023
There is an art and technique to effective professional networking, and few have mastered and leveraged the art, like Dr. Norma Denise Mitchem. The founder and president of A Well-Connected Global Leader, LLC., Mitchem’s company name says it all.
A woman of few words but whose actions, connections and projects have had significant community impact, Mitchem is a consultant to corporate and government entities. Her company offers strategic relationship-building services, as well as marketing, branding and diversity counseling.
“My gift and talent for networking is nothing more than a gift from God,” says Mitchem, who is also the mother of seven children. “I admit, I do network very well and have been blessed to have never met a stranger and many of these strangers who are now friends, tend to be high-profile people in business and entertainment,” shared Mitchem.
Mitchem’s work as an international marketing consultant takes her around the globe for her clients. Among Mitchem’s clients and/or connections are extremely deep-pocketed people, including black billionaire entrepreneurs like Media Mogul, Oprah; Financial and Real Estate Investors Robert Smith and Don Peeples; as well as a slew of entrepreneurs, community leaders and celebrities from business, politics, education, music, television, film, etc. These include people like Award-Winning Actor, Singer and TV Producer, Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah; Renowned Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump; Singers, Stevie Wonder, India Arie; Actors Lynn Whitfield, Halle Berry and Hill Harper; Ambassador Andrew Young, his brother Dr. Walter and Sonja Young; multi-millionaire real estate developer, Bill Allen of Stonecrest, GA, who owns the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute and the New Black Wall Street in Atlanta, and many, many more
Denise and Oprah
A resident of Stonecrest, GA, Mitchem for over 30 years, Mitchem is a native of New York City, whose multi-ethnic parents and grandparents came from Jamaica, Costa Rica, and India. She says she always had a strong work ethic and was always a go-getter, characteristics she learned from her family.
“In addition to being part of my personality as a Capricorn, working hard and having financial stability was how I was raised,” said Mitchem. “My parents were business owners and my former husband and I started a janitorial business in New York when we were a young married couple and were able to secure million-dollar contracts from the city of New York, in addition to major retail outlets, etc.,” shared Mitchem.
Mitchem said she learned how to secure those types of contracts by taking courses with the Black Women Enterprise in New York, founded by Dr. Nicki Waxman, who taught her how to write business plans, become certified as a women and minority-owned business and go after big contracts. She also served on the boards of a few business organizations in New York, which helped further her connections and business opportunities.
Billionaire Robert Smith and Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump
“As a young business owner, I was blessed to serve on the boards of a couple of prestigious business organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners on Long Island, as well as the Small Business Association of Long Island, and I was the only person of color on those boards at that time. However, building those relationships helped grow our janitorial business significantly, which we continued to do when we moved to Atlanta,” said Mitchem.
Mitchem’s educational background includes attending Howard University and focusing on international business and marketing, receiving a postgraduate degree from Harvard Divinity School and receiving an honorary doctorate from Harvard Leadership Institute. In addition to her experience as a successful business owner, Mitchem’s professional background includes serving as vice president of marketing, corporate relations and government affairs, at companies like UST Global, MCI Diagnostic, etc
The opportunity to rub elbows and get to know celebrities in music and television actually started when Mitchem was growing up in Harlem. Her mother was an agent for a popular band, and her cousin was also in the entertainment industry, so a young Mitchem got to see lots of actors and singers coming through her family residences.
Denise with Singer, India Arie
“Big stars like Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross, Don Cornelious, creator/producer of Soul Train, Actor and Director Melvin van Peebles, and so many others, were either at my cousin’s house or our house when we were growing up,” shared Mitchem. “I would also pray about meeting certain people like Oprah and was blessed to not only meet her but visit her home. I stayed at Stevie Wonder’s home and woke up the next day to learn he had written a song for me! How cool is that?!” she continued. “God has opened so many doors for me like that. I even wanted to meet Elon Musk about a strategic partnership I was working on for a client, but this was way before he bought Twitter! I did get a chance to do that and found him to be a really attentive listener,” she said.
Mitchem says she is very thankful for the opportunity to do the kind of work she has done as a business owner, as well as for the success of all seven of her children. On any given day on Mitchem’s social media posts, you can see her photographed with some major celebrities. She continues leveraging her connections to benefit not only her clients, but organizations and causes about which she is passionate.
“Working with and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are my thing!” said Mitchem. “I’ve been working with and supporting United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for years, and all of my children went to HBCUs,” she continued. “My family has even started a non-profit to help kids attending HBCUs with securing financial aid and other needs because it’s important that our students and the HBCUs to get the support they need from our community, so these vital cultural, educational entities can continue to do what they do for our communities,” she said.
Denise and Queen Latifah